Saturday, March 6, 2021
Pawnee Ramble

The weather looked uplifting for a late winter / early spring Saturday (low 60's for temps). The Pawnee National Grasslands would be a relaxing day with wide vistas to stretch the eyeballs. A nice group of five vehicles met in Ault for an easy ramble about the public areas of the grasslands (the below two green blocks are a mix of public and private so a detail map is needed to stay on public lands). We visited some of the windmills (water spots for cattle) with a stop at Crow Valley Hill / Wiggins Telephone tower - the highest elevation for the day. The last stop for the trip was the old missile launch location (an above ground facility). Where I was expecting an empty location, it was filled with cars and people. A model rocket group was launching rockets. It was fun watching the process (video).

The gravel portion of the day was 35 miles with a time of 2h49m. Some of the group spent an additional hour watching model rocket launches.

East of Ault - the views open up. Scant few trees.

The Phillips Windmill

Just a bit of snow left in the water tank

The group

Most tanks have some sort of ramp for small animals to use to get out of the water - this tank has a ramp near the water fill. The expanded metal / mesh near the bottom left of the picture is another type of ramp that some tanks use - this one has fallen / not usable.

Ridge Windmill

To our west were the moutains - a bit hazy today.

Longs Peak, the highest - just left of center. Rocky Mountain National Park at the right edge of the picture.

Ridge Windmill

Only what is needed - a windmill to convert wind entergy into mechanical energy to lift water out of the well and into the water tank. A sturdy fence around the windmill tower and water piple to keep cattle from rubbing against it and damaging it. A sturdy, low sided tank to hold a bit of water. Some concrete around the tank to keep erosion in check.

Not the most pleasant looking water

McGartney Windmill

I wonder if a house was on this location at some point. It is rare to see a tree in the plains. Often, trees are only found near water sources (streams) or where people live (houses).

This windmill, on a bit of a hill, fills a black plastic lined 'pool' with sloping sides. One rabbit wasn't able to make it out. I believe the pool has piping at the base to drain water down the hill to a nearby watering tank. This location is fenced - no cattle can get in (or if they could, would not be able to drink from the sloped pool).

`wish I had a photo of the whole pool. Only a bit of the black plastic / rubber is visible here with the dead rabbit.

The radio tower atop the Crow Valley Hill. The sign on the equipment building says Wiggins Telephone. Wiggins Colorado is a small town about 30 miles southeast of here.

Looking east

From the north, looking south towards the radio tower. Lower portion of the photo - a fenced in area with trees. I wonder if a house was here at some time. Gilney Windmill in the background.

The largest bit of snow for the day

Click for a much larger picture

Looking north / northeast from Crow Valley Hill

Howard windmill

This is shorter than typical

A new watering tank.  Some of the tanks do not have windmills nearby. They must be filled via a nearby electric pump. Some of them do have flotation water valves - much like a toilet tank.

An unexpected sight. The grasslands are used for cattle grazing.

This was a bit unexpected - it was picked clean on the inside. I wonder what type of critters enjoyed the feast.

At the old missile site - model rocket launching.


(video quality is only so/so - I pointed the phone "in the general direction".
Some rocket action was off-screen but enough is good so here you go...)